Cablegate: Some Kurds On Jordan's Border Return to Iraq;

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958:N/A
SUBJECT: Some Kurds on Jordan's Border Return to Iraq;
Restored UNHCR Iraq Operations -- Including Resettlement --
Required to Convince the Rest

REF: A) Amman 4001
B) Cheyne/Rusch July 10 e-mail

1. (U) This is a joint report from Amman and Cairo
refcoords and contains an action request in para 8.

2. (SBU) Summary and Action Request: Amman and Cairo
refcoords traveled to the Jordanian-Iraqi border July 8 to
meet with Iranian Kurds who seek resettlement in a third
country. UNHCR reported that an additional 79 Iranian Kurds
have left no-man's land (NML) for northern Iraq, with
another five Kurdish families rumored to have left NML for
Iran. The number of Kurds in NML is now less than 1,000.
However, the Kurds who returned to northern Iraq reported
that UNHCR is unable to provide protection or any form of
assistance to refugees in the north, discouraging others
from following them. The Kurds' leadership therefore
continues to insist that they will not leave NML except for
resettlement in a third country. Full-scale resumption of
UNHCR activities in Iraq -- beginning in the north --
appears to be the only way to resolve the lingering problem
at NML. Department's guidance on possible DHS resettlement
processing in northern Iraq is requested. End summary and
action request.

3. (U) Amman- and Cairo-based regional refcoords made a
joint trip to the Jordanian-Iraqi border on July 8 to meet
with Iranian Kurds who seek resettlement in a third country.
As reported ref a, a core group of 1,000 Iranian Kurds from
Iraq's Al Tash refugee camp have been in no-man's land (NML)
at the Iraqi-Jordanian border since April 12, seeking
temporary asylum in Jordan and resettlement in a third
country. UNHCR (correctly, in our opinion) refuses to
conduct resettlement screening in NML, fearing it would
create a pull factor for disgruntled refugees and Iraqi
nationals from throughout Iraq.

4. (SBU) During their July 8 meeting, refcoords repeated
previous assurances that the US would consider the Iranian
Kurds for resettlement if they would return to Iraq. The
Kurds' leadership flatly rejected even a temporary return to
Iraq. Northern Iraq is not their land, the Kurds said, and
their political affiliations make them vulnerable to cross-
border threats from Iranian security agents. The Iran-Iraq
border is porous, they argued, and coalition forces are
unable to protect Kurdish political activists from Iranian
intelligence agents who have a known record of assassinating
opponents abroad. The group at NML claims to be composed
entirely of political activists, with five different
political movements represented: the Democratic Party of
Kurdistan of Iran (DPKI), the Communist Party (Kommula), the
Constitutionalist Movements, the Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK)
and Khabat. The Kurds also claimed that Jalal Talabani and
the PUK, who have been encouraging the Al Tash Kurds to
resettle in northern Iraq, are known to have good relations
with Iran and therefore are not to be trusted.

5. (U) The Kurds confirmed UNHCR's report that 79
individuals had left NML for northern Iraq (the village of
Kallar, near Sulaimaniyah) but denied reports that 5 Kurdish
families had left NML for Iran. (UNHCR separately confirmed
that the number of Kurds in NML is now less than 1,000 but
said it is unable to provide more precise figures, as it has
never implemented a camp registration system in NML.)
According to the NML camp leadership, the Kurds who returned
to northern Iraq reported that UNHCR is unable to provide
protection or any form of assistance to refugees in the
north and have discouraged others from following them.
Although the KDP and PUK have made good on their promises of
providing land for the Al Tash Kurds, they cannot provide
food or humanitarian assistance to the group and UNHCR, the
Kurds noted bitterly, also is unable to provide any
assistance. The camp committee asked refcoords how UNHCR
and the US could possibly advocate the Kurds' return to Iraq
under these circumstances.

6. In the meantime, protection conditions in the NML camp
continue to deteriorate. With hundreds of trucks queued at
the border crossing every day, UNHCR reports that the NML
refugees are increasingly engaged in "business," selling
food and commodities to the truckers waiting to cross the
borders. Refugee children are acting as runners for the
business, darting in and out of traffic all day. A child
was hit by a car during the week of June 30 and medevaced to
Amman with a serious head injury. Nevertheless, the
accident did not sway the camp committee's position in the

7. (SBU) Comment: From our perspective, a full-scale
resumption of UNHCR activities in Iraq -- beginning in the
north -- is the only way to resolve the lingering problem at
NML. If UNHCR is able to reestablish basic services and
then move quickly to start resettlement processing, the NML
Kurds most likely will return voluntarily to northern Iraq.
However, it is far from certain that UNHCR has agreed upon
this approach, as there continues to be differences of
opinion between UNHCR personnel in Geneva, Amman and
Baghdad. PRM A/S Dewey's July 15-21 visit to the region
hopefully will provide an opportunity to develop a common
approach to this problem.

8. (SBU) Action Request: In the meantime, UNHCR/Jordan
seeks assurances from resettlement countries that they will
be able to conduct resettlement processing in northern Iraq.
As requested ref b, refcoords seek guidance on: whether CPA
Baghdad and BCIS would consider refugee resettlement
processing in northern Iraq; and what information and/or
arrangements BCIS would require to commit to resettlement
processing in northern Iraq. We also need to consider which
Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) -- Istanbul or Amman --
would be best equipped to work in northern Iraq.

9. (U) CPA Baghdad minimize considered.

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